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Transforming schools - citizenship in action

Press release issued: 23 April 2002

Media release
Transforming schools - citizenship in action

'Citizenship' is a new subject that will become compulsory in secondary schools from September 2002. Eight of the first group of 50 specialist citizenship teachers in the country are now being trained by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol.

Citizenship education is part of the government's response to public concerns which became highly visible during the '90s, in the wake of crises such as the murders of Jamie Bulger and the headteacher Philip Lawrence. From September citizenship education will become part of the National Curriculum and all secondary schools will have to teach it. Like all other subjects it will be liable to OFSTED inspection.

Since 1996, staff at Bristol University's Graduate School of Education have been consulting with a local school, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, and its community, about the values that really mattered to them. Teachers then addressed those values in teaching and learning across the curriculum to develop a whole school approach to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and citizenship.

This work has increased understanding of the educational issues involved, and the practical strategies required to them into practice. It puts Bristol's Graduate School of Education at the forefront of citizenship education and has informed the government's current initiative.

Using the concepts of 'story, trust, power and success', educationalists at Bristol University have developed an innovative approach to teaching citizenship. Dr Ruth Deakin-Crick described Bristol's methodology as a "transformational professional approach, rather than an approach which deals only with the taught curriculum or only with school ethos".

At the heart of this is the goal of enabling teachers to make their own professional judgements based on knowledge of the whole student, as well as encouraging students' development as active lifelong learners in a local and global community.

Citizenship teaching is expected to cover moral and social development, community involvement and political literacy. But it is different from all other subjects, in that it will not be taught in citizenship classes, but through all curriculum subjects and extra-curricular activities. That way it will involve both the whole child and the community.

However, schools are already overloaded and morale is low. For many this is just one more government initiative which is not welcome. To help schools implement this scheme, a two-day conference aimed at teachers and community leaders is being held on April 30 and May 1 at the University of Bristol. It will outline practical management approaches to values, ethos and citizenship education.

A key purpose of the first day of the conference is to raise awareness of the people, resources and networks available to support this work in Bristol and the region. There will be a 'market place' of displays and workshops offering practical resources for use in September. These will include examples of schemes of work, lesson plans, ICT resources and potential community connections.

On the second day, all headteachers from Bristol's secondary schools will be working with Professor David Hopkins, head of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit in the government's Department of Education and Skills, to address the issues raised on day one and how to implement citizenship education.

To coincide with the conference, Ruth Deakin-Crick's book 'Transforming Visions; Managing Values in Schools', published by Middlesex University Press, will be launched on the evening of April 30.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Tuesday, 23-Apr-2002 10:37:52 BST

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